A FORMER police officer standing in the election to become the county’s police and crime commissioner has called for cannabis to be made available and ‘regulated’.
Richard Adair, a former PC and now the Liberal Democrat candidate, wants the class B drug to be available in shops.
Speaking to The News, he said cannabis should not be legalised but be available in authorised shops and pharmacies.
He said: ‘If we now have some sort of framework where we can regulate cannabis use I think that would be an extremely good thing.
‘At the moment you can only get it through criminal means but if you regulate it, you can get it.
‘At the end of the day, if an 18-year-old decided to take cannabis, is it down to society to stop him?
‘An awful lot of people in society don’t consider it as a criminal act – though something that you shouldn’t do – but they don’t think it’s out-and-out criminal.’
Mr Adair said people should have counselling and be given advice before they could be sold cannabis.
Currently, anyone arrested for possession of cannabis faces a maximum five-year prison term. Anyone supplying or producing it faces up to 14 years.
Ukip candidate Roy Swales said cannabis should be tightly regulated for those in medical need. He added: ‘As for an Amsterdam-style, go down your local shop and buy a handful of it, I’m not sure we’re ready for it in this country.’
But the Tory candidate, Michael Lane, said he would support the current law.
Mr Lane said: ‘My starting point is the mental health issues that are becoming more and more evident.
‘It’s not a straightforward issue and many of the people advocating its common use and acceptable use are standing in danger. I would support the current law at the moment, I have no policy thoughts about changing it.’
Don Jerrard (Independent) added cannabis was ‘mind-bending’ and should be regulated but said there was no difference between the drug, alcohol and tobacco. He said: ‘It should not be a criminal offence to use cannabis but it should be to supply it.’
Current police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said: ‘It’s the addiction to the substance that is the risk.
‘Addicts are vulnerable to control by those who supply, at risk of offending to finance their addiction and at personal risk of long-term physical and mental damage.’
Steve Watts, for Zero Tolerance Policing Ex Chief, said he would not want the current law to change.
He said: ‘While we should avoid criminalising young people for their mistakes, we must hit the dealers hard.
‘Cannabis is a gateway drug, leading to other drug use.
‘Cannabis available now is far stronger than that which was available 30 years ago and has greater negative health effects.’
Robin Price, for Labour, did not respond.
The election will be held on May 5.